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Bishop Burnet on Education

He should be allowed, according to the advice of Solomon, all innocent mirth and cheerfulness: but it is better the lesse he converse with women; though to be sometimes with the wife and excellent of that sexe, be one of the greatest helps for breeding.

He should be made to abhorre all affectation, either in his discourse or behaviour; for awaies that which is most natural goes best of. He should be taught to observe a right mediocrity, betwixt simple modesty and rather timidity, and blustring and forward confidence. So much of a youth’s breeding.

And now having brought him to the twenty fifth year of his age, wherein by our law he is declared a man, exempt from all inspection of others, it is fit I also let him go, and deliver him from the yoke of a governour. But as by our law till he be twenty five years, he hath it in his choice to revoke what he did before he was twenty one years old, I shall therefore follow him with my advice to that age: all therefore that hath been formerly taught him must he now begin to consider.

The study next fit for him, is the laws and customes of his countrey: and without knowledge of this, he is but a poor nobleman or countryman. He must therefore acquaint himselfe with the colledge of justice, and study to get some able lawyer to stay a vacation with him, for instructing him in the forms of the law; for this is necessary both to the management of his private fortune, and to fit him for publicke employment, when he is called to it.

Next he must understand his own affairs; not trusting them to chamberlains or servants, but managing them himselfe; and therefore parents, at this age, should acquaint their children with the state of their affairs, and commit to their care such portions of their fortune as they may best spare; that thereby they may see what government they have, and may know how antidote their inclinations, if they be either o profuse or too saving.

After this I would desire him to study agriculture, and the waies of improving ground, and begin to keep nurseries, and to inclose ground: for this is both ane honest and profitable exercise, and full of pleasure; which may also draw a man to love home; a necessary matter for young men.

Only politics he must not study, nor learn intrigues, except it be for mere information; for a young man is not capable of that discretion which is for the management of affairs. Though he be perhaps sufficiently able to contrive and suggest good counsels, yet there is a certain sutleness, closeness and leger de main requisite in a statesman, which a young man cannot know how to practice. Yet I would have him much in the company of grave and wise men.